Every year, a coastal region of Japan demonstrates that straw may be used for more than haybales. The Wara Art Festival in Niigita prefecture displays giant sculptures built from “wara,” or leftover rice straw. While the festival was put on hold in 2020 owing to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, it has returned just in time for its 13th anniversary, with a whole new collection of handcrafted animals at Uwasekigata Park. An eagle, bear, walrus, and squid, to mention a few, are among them.
This popular event began some years ago when farmers in Nishikan Ward (previously Iwamuro village) were looking for a means to get rid of leftover rice straw. It eventually led to a collaboration with Musashino Art University, which is still going strong today. Each piece of art is designed by students at the school, and it is brought to life by Nishikan Ward craftspeople utilizing intricate wooden structures and a plethora of straw.
The sculptures on display this year are in Uwasekigata Park until the end of October. In their web gallery, you can also examine work from prior events.
The 13th annual Wara Art Festival in Japan showcases gigantic animal sculptures constructed of rice straw.
The statues will remain on display until October 31 at Uwasekigata Park.
Watch this video to see how they construct their amazing straw sculptures: